directed by Stacy Peralta
Stacy Peralta’s doc about the history of big wave surfing is an inclusive foray into spiritual badassery, aquatic daredevilry and the culture of epic. Peralta uses a similar formula that made Dogtown and Z Boys such a fantastic doc, keeping the story moving with dynamic visuals, music and storytelling (who says documentaries have to be dry and boring?). Fans of Dogtown will find similarities that mark a signature style uniquely Peralta’s, and fans of surfing will find icons like Greg Noll, Jeff Clark and Laird Hamilton regaling iconic rides, iconic spots, and iconic ideals in a way that transcends the confines of the sport. From Waimea to Mavericks, Riding Giants chronicles surfing from its origins to the present day, focusing on the aspect of big wave surfing instead of trying like scattershot to tell the entire story of the spiritual sport in one go. What unfolds through the anecdotes, history and personal tragedy is the story of a sport built around a philosophy in a way unlike any other sport. Golfers can hit a hole in one, and baseball pitchers can pitch a perfect game, but for surfers, there is no bar, no absolute to attain. For them, the quest is just as significant as the achievement, the search for the perfect wave, the perfect ride. For surfer’s like Noll, surfing is a very real love affair (if you watch the DVD, please please check out the Greg Noll sound bite on the special features in which he says the ocean winked at him during one nostalgic trip). For the likes of Clark, it’s a singular and, for a decade and a half, solitary rite that few could know. For us, the non-surfers of the world, the doc is a glimpse into a philosophy and a very real way of life, lovingly conveyed to us by a filmmaker who looks up to these men and women with an earnest respect that shines through his work. Let’s not forget that Peralta was first and foremost a surfer before finding his calling with skateboarding and, later, filmmaking, and it shows. Peralta is able to do with Riding Giants what Bruce Brown was able to do with Endless Summer: create a film that both insiders and outsiders can equally enjoy, a film that leaves something deep, transcendent and beautiful inside you for always. It may even have you thinking about getting a board of your own.
Note: For all you fellow Michiganders out there: They say you can surf Lake Superior if the conditions are right.